Councillors in South Tyneside are encouraging people to pledge their support to this year's national Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day which calls on people to come together to spot and speak out against child abuse.
In the run-up to the day this Sunday (18 March), people are being urged to support the Helping Hands campaign by writing a pledge on their hands and posting it with the hashtag #HelpingHands and CSEDay18 to help raise awareness of the issue.
Councillor Joan Atkinson, Lead Member for Children, Families and Young People and Councillor Moira Smith, Chair of the South Tyneside Community Safety Partnership, are leading the way and have already pledged their support to the campaign.
Councillor Atkinson said: "Child sexual exploitation is a form of child abuse that involves the manipulation or coercion of young people under the age of 18 into sexual activity and it is completely unacceptable.
"We want people to help us get across the message that we are adopting a zero tolerance approach to adults who form inappropriate relationships with children."
Working together in partnership the Local Safeguarding Children Board and the Youth Justice Service are distributing burgundy ribbons across the Borough to raise the issue of child sexual exploitation and encourage open and honest discussion about the issue.
Councillor Moira Smith, Chair of the South Tyneside Community Safety Partnership, added: "It is important that we support this campaign to raise awareness of this abhorrent crime. We are committed to working with our partners to keep our young people safe but would urge the public to be our eyes and ears in the community and report any concerns they have directly to the Police ."
The Town Hall will be lit up in burgundy on Sunday to mark the day.